April 28, 2017

Double digit training walk

It would be a flat out lie if I said that I feel prepared for the Indy Mini a week from tomorrow! Haha.  I do feel more prepared than I was in 2008 (my first time doing it, and I didn't do ANY training), but I am far from ready now. Having such a long depressive episode last year took a huge toll on my body (and obviously my mind).

A couple of months ago, I made the decision to take a break from running, and I don't regret that decision one bit. I just felt SO tired of it--I got tired of racing a long time ago, and I struggled with wanting to run for fun. I don't have a running partner, which makes it tough to enjoy running and find the motivation to get out there.

When my running mojo showed no signs of returning, I decided that I would walk the Indy Mini. I've walked it three times before, and it's actually a really great race to walk! Still, though, I struggled with motivation to do much of anything--even training walks. My depression wasn't under control as I tried new medications, and depression really does hold me back from even caring enough to try.

Since seeing the psychiatrist and trying something new, I've been doing MUCH better. I finally feel like my depression is under control, and it's such a relief! My anxiety, however, seems to have intensified. The problem with that is that my anxiety has very real physical symptoms. I get a "lump in my throat" feeling, where it's hard to swallow and even hard to breathe. It feels like I have a golf ball in my throat (and it can last for days or even weeks). Also, my heart beats quite a bit faster, which makes everything feel harder than it should. There are other symptoms, but those are a couple of them.

I've had a ton more energy since getting the depression under control, but I've tried running and the physical symptoms of increased anxiety make running feel pretty difficult. I have a follow-up appointment with the psychiatrist on May 9th, so if I'm still feeling anxious, I'll talk to him about it.

Anyway, all of this is to say that I'm still planning to walk the Indy Mini, but I didn't prepare the way I should have. Each time I've done the race, I've thought how fun it would be to walk it and take pictures and just really enjoy it! The last time I did the race was in 2011, and I didn't even have a smart phone yet; so I had never had a camera with me to take photos on the course. This year, I'm pretty happy that I'll be able to slow down and take pictures of interesting things I see along the way. I also love to chat with strangers on the course--there are so many interesting people with fascinating stories of how they got to be there, in that moment.

Today, I went for my only double digit walk before the race--10 miles. I managed to sleep in until about 7:30, so I didn't give myself much time to procrastinate once I got up. I got dressed to run (well, walk), ate breakfast, and headed out for an out-and-back. It was surprisingly cold! The first five miles, I was wishing that I had long sleeves. But once I turned around, and had a tailwind, the temp seemed perfect.

I was thinking I might try to attempt run/walking (three minutes run, one minute walk) to see how that went (and hopefully save some time--walking 10 miles takes quite a while!). I forgot to turn the run/walk alert on, so after a half mile or so, I figured out what the problem was, and attempted a couple of intervals. My heart rate was very high, though, even at a slow jog; and the lump in my throat was driving me crazy. I eventually decided to turn off the alert, walk the whole thing, and if I had any moments where I felt like breaking into a jog (hahaha!), I would.

It felt like it took forever, but I finally got to the halfway point. Once I turned around, I knew I would finish (obviously, because it was an out and back). My hips were pretty sore, and the only relief I got was when I would start running. So, I'd run for a couple of minutes, until my heart rate felt too high (170!) and then walk again. It was so odd--when heart rate training, my easy runs were done at a heart rate of 146 or lower. I managed about a 10:00/mi pace with that heart rate. Today, just walking was getting my heart rate up to the high 140's. My walk was pretty fast, so it wasn't like I was taking a light stroll, but I still think that seems high. Again, something to ask the doctor about, but it's likely from my anxiety symptoms.

So happy when I heard the beep signaling 10 miles!

Anyway, I am SO SO SO glad that I fit in this 10-miler before the race! I definitely feel more prepared than I did yesterday, even if it's only mental. I feel like it's going to be rough, but I will definitely make it through 13.1 miles. And Caitlin is even going to walk with me, so I'm sure the time will pass quickly if we're chatting.

After my walk today, and seeing that I burned a bazillion calories (well, over a thousand, anyway) I went for frozen yogurt at the new Menchies that just opened! I don't have to drive 45 minutes for fro-yo anymore. This could be good or bad--we'll see how it goes ;)

Cheesecake and cake batter frozen yogurt with strawberries,
coconut, cheesecake bites, and marshmallow topping :)
I'm kind of nervous to meet everyone on Friday at the Indy meet-up. There are going to be 13 of us, and the only one that I've met in person is Caitlin! The others are blog readers that I've gotten to know a little via Facebook over the past several months. Everyone seems super nice, and they've said they're a little nervous as well, so I'm sure it will be great. Jerry and I are driving to Indy a week from today! It's coming up so quickly.

While I was walking today, I got a text from my sister. She asked Eli to run a virtual 5K with her, and he did it! He hasn't run since cross country season, but they went nice and slow and he ran the entire way. And he earned the Spaceballs medal she had for him.

Okay, well Joey is clearly ready for me to stop writing this post and give him his dinner. I love this dog! ;)

Have a great weekend, everyone! My sister is in town, so I'll be spending some time with her and Shawn, which is always fun.

April 27, 2017

Six-Month Half-Marathon Training Plan for Beginners

Finally! I've been working on this plan for what feels like forever, and I finally finished it up today. I've posted it on my Training Plans page, but I'll share it here as well.

Here is a printer-friendly version of the plan!

My goal for this plan is to take a true beginner (non-runner) and prepare them to run a half-marathon.

This is a six-month training plan--26 weeks! If you are currently capable of walking 30 minutes, four days per week, and your doctor okays it, then you can certainly follow this plan to run your first half-marathon as soon as six months from now.

I highly suggest choosing a race at least six months from now, and registering for it now. By paying for it, and knowing that you are registered to run it, you are much more likely to follow the training plan. I would sign up and then announce to everyone via social media that you are going to do it. Sometimes our pride will push us to work harder than we would otherwise ;)

I would also suggest reading these posts before you get started:

Tips for Running and Training for Your First Half-Marathon
My Favorite Running Things
50 Tips About Running
All About Fueling
The Importance of the Easy Run (a MUST READ)

I basically combined my "Walk to Run" plan, my "Base Building" plan, and my "Finish Strong Half-Marathon" plan, made some tweaks here and there, and kept it as simple as possible, while still being effective.

At first, there are four workouts per week, and then in Week 15, a fifth day is added. The plan starts by building up from walking to running for a full 30 minutes, non-stop. From there, it slowly builds up the long run on weekends, while still running at a very easy pace. In Week 15, I introduce some very simple speed work--intervals from 60 seconds to (eventually) 5 minutes long.

The majority of the plan is EASY running. I stress that because easy runs are so important! Please read my post about The Importance of the Easy Run before you start any training plan. I became my fastest, while staying injury-free, by doing most of my runs at a very slow, easy pace. The post I linked to above describes it much more detail.

So, without further ado, I give you the link to my Six-Month Half-Marathon Training Plan for Beginners (it's in PDF format for easy printing). I hope you enjoy! I welcome any feedback, good or bad, about the results of the plan. I've gotten very good feedback about the other plans I've written, so I hope this one will serve you well :)

April 26, 2017

My watch, Wednesday Weigh-in, and alcohol

After a busy weekend, the last couple of day have seemed dull--but it's nice, because I've gotten quite a bit done. I've been feeling so much better since I started my new medication, and I'm thrilled that it's actually working. I'd gotten used to feeling depressed for so long (this bout lasted about 10 months) that I was getting desperate. I even told my friend Andrea, just before seeing the psychiatrist, that I was putting ALL my eggs into that one basket, and I just hoped that it would help.

Yesterday, I was SO energetic. My depression had made me feel lethargic and I had to force myself to do things; but now that I'm feeling better, I don't have to talk myself into things anymore. My house is super clean, I'm caught up on email (well, almost--but much more than usual), I've been spending time with the kids, and I just feel very content. I'm not euphoric or anything, but I am loving that I don't feel depressed. I had so many really dark days that I thought would never end, and when I look back on those, I have a hard time believing it.

I was happy I got to spend some time with Jerry yesterday. He picked me up from the airport on Sunday night, and then we went to bed (I only saw him for about two hours, but I was unpacking, visiting with the kids, etc). He left for work before I woke up on Monday, and from work, he went to a concert with a friend on Monday night. I was sleeping when he got home, and then he woke up for work early on Tuesday, while I was sleeping. So last night was the first night I really got to talk to him since Thursday afternoon.

While I was in Boston, he did the coolest thing for me--he got a new battery put in my watch! Maybe that doesn't sound like a big deal, but Jerry bought me this watch when we were dating, probably in 2001-ish? I loved it, and I wore it until the battery went dead. Then I put it in my jewelry box, intending to take it in for a new battery. And it sat there ever since!

I was cleaning out drawers in my bedroom, and I went through my jewelry box as well. When I saw the watch, I told Jerry that I really HAVE to get a new battery, because I'd love to wear the watch again. So, while I was in Boston, Jerry surprised me by taking my watch in and now it works again! I know a lot of people don't wear watches anymore, because it's easy enough to check the time on our phones; but I've always liked telling time manually--with the "big hand" and "little hand"--instead of digitally. Anyway, I'm happy to be wearing it again! (It's definitely bigger on my wrist than it used to be--but that's just fine with me).

This morning was my Wednesday Weigh-in, and I was pretty psyched when I got on the scale to see that not only had I not gained weight in Boston, I actually had a good two pound loss this week! It was funny, though. I usually weigh in while wearing my underwear and sometimes my socks, but when I stepped on the scale, it said 140.0. SO close to the 130's--so I took off my undies and socks, and that was enough to bring it down to 139.8.

THEN, when I picked up my phone to take a picture, it went up to 140.2. Obviously, it doesn't actually make any difference whether it reads 140.2 or 139.8 (my body weighs the same either way), but because I was so close to the 130's, I wanted the official weigh in to read that. After a few tries, I managed to grab my phone and snap a picture before the scale registered the weight of the phone. HAHAHA.

I haven't seen the 130's in a long time. I think the biggest change over the last couple of months has been that I haven't had much alcohol at all. It wasn't just calories in alcohol that would be a problem (a glass of wine only has 100-125 calories); but a glass of wine usually makes me want to eat something, and then sometimes I would binge or just eat when I wasn't actually hungry. Alcohol gives me that, "Ah, screw it! I'll worry about it later!" mentality.

I haven't quit drinking alcohol entirely, but I can count on one hand the number of occasions that I've had any drinks--even including this weekend in Boston. I had one and a half beers on Friday; one drink with dinner at Kowloon, and two at the comedy show; and none on Sunday. Usually, on vacation, I like to indulge in several drinks! The benefit to drinking only on rare occasions now is that I've become a lightweight, and one or two drinks is plenty.

Anyway, I haven't binged in over two months, so I think it has made a pretty big difference. I still haven't been counting calories, but I've been eating four times a day and keeping my portions reasonable. I'm pretty happy with how things are going right now! :)

April 24, 2017

A Boston weekend

I'm home from Boston! What a whirlwind weekend--it went by so quickly. I started to write out a detailed post about everything we did, but it would have taken forever, so I'll just do a quick recap.


I arrived in Boston at around 8:00 AM, and Caitlin and John picked me up from the airport. We headed from the airport to Sam Adams Brewery for a tour! "It's five o'clock somewhere" applies quite literally at Sam Adams Brewery, because all of their clocks are permanently set to 5:00, haha. So, the fact that it was a 9:30 on a Friday morning made no difference ;)

Waiting for our Sam Adams tour
First, we did a tasting while we were waiting for our tour. They had four blind samples of beers to taste and then respond to questions about each one on a computer.

beer tasting

Caitlin and I are not exactly beer-people, so we took a tiny sip of each just to see what we thought, but they all tasted the same to us. Our tour guide was awesome, and I learned quite a bit about making beer. I was mostly interested when he described putting unusual things into beers that are brewing--like oysters!

At the end of the tour, they gave us more beer to taste--some of their best sellers--so it was fun to taste without committing to a beer that I wasn't sure if I'd like. Then took a free shuttle/party bus to a cool pub called Doyle's. The driver of the bus was very intense, and had us cracking up. I felt like I was on a sitcom or something. I would love to do that again if I go back to Boston.

At Doyle's, I had the BEST fried pickles I've ever had in my life! Fried pickles are a favorite of mine, but these ones were honestly the best I've had.

fried pickles
Fried pickles at Doyle's

After lunch at Doyle's, we went on a mission to get a piece of carrot cake from Mike's Pastry. Their carrot cake is SO good, and I was looking forward to having a piece while I was in town!

Mike's Pastry Boston

Unfortunately, they were sold out. So I "settled" for a chocolate chip cannoli instead, and it was amazing. I'm kind of glad they didn't have the cake, because I wouldn't have tried the cannoli otherwise.

Chocolate chip cannoli from Mike's Pastry
We went to the Airbnb and chatted for a little while before going to a dive bar about a mile away. I love dive bars, especially when they have Keno. Caitlin and I played Keno, and we all chatted for several hours--it was exactly what I was looking forward to! I love being able to catch up with friends in a low-key environment.

At Sully's, the dive bar where we spent the evening


I had gotten a comment on my blog from a reader named Rachel, who is from Boston and asked about meeting up. I hadn't planned an actual "meet-up" because I was only going to be there for two nights, but I suggested that she meet us for breakfast on Saturday morning. I was happy that it worked out, and she met us at a little cafe near the Airbnb.

I always get nervous before meeting readers, because I typically know NOTHING about them. There is a lot of my life described here on my blog, so I feel like they know all about me--but I'm literally meeting a stranger. Thankfully, Rachel turned out to be not just "normal/not a serial killer", but she was awesome! As soon as she walked up to the table, I stopped being nervous. We had great conversation, and a yummy breakfast. Then we said goodbye, and John, Caitlin, and I went into downtown Boston.

It was cold and raining, unfortunately! It was raining the last time I was in Boston, so I had hoped for nice weather, but no such luck. Still, we walked the Freedom Trail, stopping at David's Tea to warm our hands with a hot cup of tea.

Our first stop on the Freedom Trail

cemetery Boston
I love cemeteries, and I could have walked through this all day;
I'm amazed that these stones are in such good condition for being
from the 1700's. 
We went back to Mike's to see if they had carrot cake, and they told us to go back after 3:00, because it wasn't ready yet.

We went to Fenway Park for a tour. Caitlin and I both have Reynaud's (mine is terrible in my feet, and hers is in her hands). My feet started to get numb and then very painful, which drives me crazy! It was hard to walk up and down the stairs because my feet hurt from the Reynaud's (triggered from the cold). I was wishing Jerry was with me, because he would have loved the tour--but I'm pretty sure we'll go next year together, so he can see it then.

Fenway Park

It felt like January, not April!

After the park, Caitlin and I were dying to get warm, so we headed to the nearest restaurant for lunch. All I could think about was hot clam chowder. My toes finally thawed out, and I had some delicious chowder for lunch. John's friends, Will and Denise, met us there. They were fantastic people! I enjoyed getting to know them, and I could clearly see why John likes them so much.

After a late lunch, we went to Mike's (for the third time!) to get some carrot cake. It was only about 4:30, but they were out! The line for Mike's is insane--but it's totally worth it. And the line actually moves pretty quickly. We couldn't see if there was any carrot cake until we got to the front of the line, but we actually had fun while we waited.

Mike's Pastry Boston
The line outside of Mike's

Almost our turn! (That's Will on the right)
We walked to the car, and I couldn't resist getting a picture with this food truck, of course:

After that, we went to Caitlin's house to meet her boyfriend, Joe. Since our lunch was so late, we didn't get a chance to sit and chat, but Joe was great! His brother lives in Detroit, so we chatted about Detroit a little. Now, how is THIS for coincidence?--remember that day Caitlin came to visit last summer, and we went to Eastern Market in Detroit? Well, Joe (who Caitlin hadn't met yet!) was actually at a Tigers game in Detroit on that same day at the same time. Crazy, right?! They later met and are now smitten with each other ;)

Joe wanted to take us all out to dinner, so we went to a Chinese place called Kowloon. Holy cow--I can't even describe how cool this place was! I wish I'd have taken some pictures inside, because it was truly indescribable. It was the largest restaurant I'd ever seen in my life, and the atmosphere was really fun. Even with the restaurant being so large, there was a wait to get a table, so clearly the food was good.

The menu was overwhelming, and I asked Caitlin and Joe to just choose for me, because I wanted to eat what they like to eat there. They chose well--the food was AMAZING. I wasn't very hungry because our lunch was so late, but I instantly made room when I tasted the food ;) Another place I want to go back to with Jerry!

Kowloon Boston
Just some of the food at Kowloon
After dinner, we went upstairs for a comedy show. I happen to really love comedy shows, so I was looking forward to it. When we walked in, the hostess sat us front and center--which is a notorious spot for getting heckled by the comedians. Thankfully, the only attention we got was when the first comedian accidentally knocked the microphone stand over, and it fell right between John and me. John caught it before it hit me, so that was cool ;)

Joe, Caitlin, me, and John
Anyway, we had lots of laughs at the comedy show; and then I was full, tired, and ready for bed--it was a long (fun) day!


We took our time getting ready on Sunday morning, and then went to breakfast at the same little cafe as Saturday. I had packed up my stuff for the airport, because I knew I'd have to get there at 2:30. We got tickets for a Duck Tour (a tour around Boston from a vehicle that goes on land and in water). I learned some really interesting facts about Boston and saw some of the city I hadn't seen. It was fun! And the day ended up being beautiful--Friday and Saturday were cold and rainy, but Sunday made up for it.

I look so awkward in this photo, because I thought
John was taking a picture with me on the RIGHT,
and the "Duck Tours" sign on the left. Hahaha

I didn't know she had done this, but early in the morning, Caitlin called Mike's and ordered a WHOLE carrot cake! Hahaha. She wanted to make sure I got a piece of carrot cake before I left. After the Duck Tour, we stopped at Mike's to get the cake. We drove around for a while looking for parking so that we could each have some, but we couldn't find a spot--and it was time to head to the airport.

So, we did what any carrot-cake-hungry people would do and we stopped in the cell phone lot. I cut out a slice of cake to take into the airport with me, and we all had a couple of bites of cake in the car. It was just as delicious as I remembered! (I imagine the other people in the lot were pretty curious about the three of us swooning over bites of cake in the car, lol)

Caitlin and John dropped me off, and I headed home. I had such a fun weekend, but it felt good to get home and see all my boys. I was wound up last night and couldn't fall asleep until around midnight; then I got up with the kids today. I'm exhausted! But thankfully, it's for good reason. I'm looking forward to going back to Boston (hopefully with Jerry) next year!

April 19, 2017

Mood journaling and weigh-in

Okay, how much does Phoebe look like a kangaroo in this picture?! I thought she looked so odd in that position, and Eli said she looked like a kangaroo. Once I saw that, I couldn't UNsee it, and it makes me laugh every time I look at it!

It's finally starting to feel like spring here in Michigan. We've had gorgeous weather for about a week now, and it's been SO nice to open up the windows in the house and work on spring cleaning. A few of you mentioned that I seem to be doing better mentally lately--happier. And it's true :)

After seeing the psychiatrist and starting a new medication, I decided to keep track of my moods using an app on my phone (my friend Emily suggested it, and I had never thought to see if such an app existed before!). I downloaded a few different ones to try out and see what I like best, so maybe once I use them a little more, I write a post about them. But so far, they've been really helpful to keep track of my moods!

I basically just choose an emoticon/mood to represent my general feeling at that moment, and then I write a few notes about it. It's easy to see at a glance my overall moods and to look for patterns. I'm hoping it will help me to see how the new medication is working (or not working). I always used to think that I could "keep track" in my head of how my moods have been, but after tracking it for a week, I realized that there was so much I would have forgotten. This will be useful to look over before I go to therapy, too, so I can remember specific events or things that changed my mood.

The first few days of the new med involved a lot of ups and downs; but now, I have very few "downs". So, I hope that means it's working, and I won't have to try any other meds! The only side effect I've noticed so far is that I'm having trouble falling asleep at night. I've even stayed up until 1:00 AM watching movies on a few occasions! But the psychiatrist said that the side effects will diminish as I get used to it. I can deal with a little insomnia if it means I won't feel depressed ;)

The kids are on Spring Break this week, but we don't have anything major planned. A lot of my friends go on family vacation for spring break, but we're going on our vacation in July to my sister's property in the upper peninsula of Michigan. (And Joey gets to go with us!)

Tomorrow, I told the boys they could each invite four friends over for a little "party" for spring break. So, we'll have 10 boys over here--God help me ;) No, their friends are actually really well-behaved, so it should be fine. I bought them some snacks and drinks, and I think I'll order pizza for dinner.

On Friday, I'm going to visit Caitlin in Boston (just for the weekend) and I'll be home on Sunday night. It all came about when I was visiting John, and we were chatting (over margaritas). John said we should go visit Caitlin in the spring, so we immediately made plans. I'm really excited to see both of them! Jerry and the kids have some fun "boy stuff" planned--I'm sure they will have a blast. (Because I used to be too scared to fly, I didn't start traveling until 2011. I did drive to Indy for the half-marathon each year, though. Every year, my kids would get so excited for me to go to Indy! They kept asking me how much longer until I leave--hahaha. I love that they have so much fun with Jerry, though.)

I think I'm going to try to get in a long walk again tomorrow morning. I know I'll be doing a lot of walking in Boston, but probably not the "training" kind of walking I need to do for the Indy Mini. I'd like to get in a 10+ mile walk at least once or twice before the race. It won't hurt to burn some extra calories before blowing them all on a piece of carrot cake in Boston ;)

Speaking of which, today was Wednesday Weigh-in. Wednesday seemed to sneak up on me this week! But I was down 1.2 pounds today.

I'm a little nervous about going to Boston, because I've gotten into such a routine with eating that it may throw me off. But, obviously, I want to enjoy my trip and not worry about my weight--so that's what I'm going to do. I'll also be doing a lot of walking while I'm there, and hopefully that will help minimize any indulgences. I'm only going to be there for two nights, anyway.

With 10 boys here tomorrow, I may not get a chance to write again before I leave, so have a great weekend everyone!

April 18, 2017

Easter weekend (and an eight-legged nightmare)

I hope everyone had a great Easter!

Jerry had to work on Easter, which was kind of a bummer, but we are used to his odd schedule. He works a lot of holidays, so when that happens, we just celebrate on a different day when he is off work. We did hide Easter eggs for this kids on Sunday morning, though. Instead of coloring eggs this year, I just bought a few dozen plastic eggs and put a piece of candy in each one (and each of the two "golden eggs" had $10 in it).

Even though the boys are a little older, at 11 and 12, they still loved finding the eggs. Jerry and I had fun hiding them, too. Then, we gave them their Easter baskets, and that was that as far as Easter goes.

Since Jerry was off Monday, we decided to have our Easter dinner and do some family stuff then.

I spent most of the day cleaning out the garage and pulling weeds from the landscaping. I was feeling good, better than I have in a while, and I wanted to get some stuff done. My friend Adam walked over and I chatted with him for a bit, too, before he continued on to walk a half-marathon just for fun on Easter morning ;)

Late Sunday afternoon, Becky came over with Lucas for a couple of hours. He gets bigger every time I see him! I can't believe how fast he's growing. We weighed him while he was here, and he was about 10 pounds. It's funny, because Eli was almost 10 pounds when he was born; and Lucas is about five weeks old. He is looking more like an infant now and not so much like a newborn. And he's starting to coo, which is adorable!

Lucas was totally sprawled out over Eli

While they were here, Noah and Eli were excited to show Becky some old home videos of them. I love watching videos from when the boys were little--their voices were just so cute! I never realized their voices were changing as it was happening, because I heard them every single day; and then when I watched the old videos, the change is huge. It's interesting to watch Lucas grow, because I only see him about once a week--so I can actually see the differences each time.

On Sunday night, I was getting ready for bed, and when I went into the bathroom, I saw the BIGGEST spider I'd ever seen in my life. It was right by the doorway, and I screamed. I couldn't believe the size of it! I looked around for something I could use to kill it, and grabbed some hairspray. The pump wasn't working for some reason! So I frantically dug around and found some spray gel. I sprayed it once, and the spider ran into my bedroom--awesome. (Jerry was at work, otherwise I would have designated him to get rid of it.)

I was not about to let it out of my sight, so I went into the bedroom and watched as it crawled behind some shelves. I grabbed a wad of toilet paper to try to smash it, but when I reached forward, it ran under the shelves. I started screaming again and Eli came in to ask if everything was okay. He held a flashlight while I moved the shelf out, and looked underneath. It was gone.

I panicked, and started searching everywhere around the shelves, under my bed, under my dresser--it was NOWHERE. We looked for about 15 minutes, and I was seriously thinking I was going to have to burn down the house, because there was no way I was going to sleep in my bed knowing that the spider was somewhere in my room.

Joey and the cats knew something was going on, because they were all crowded around us in my bedroom. Eli said he heard a light tapping, and he saw Estelle inside my closet, batting her paw at something. My cats are the BEST when it comes to finding spiders, so I had a feeling she'd found it. When I went in there, she was staring at something very closely, but I didn't see anything. I slowly started moving objects one by one to find it. I grabbed a little bag that I use for my knitting needles, and flipped it over.

That's when I saw it.

This picture makes it look much smaller than it was--honest!

Eli got his first glimpse of it, and started screaming as well. He thought I'd been exaggerating at how big it was. I was terrified to try to grab it with the toilet paper, because my biggest fear is the spider crawling over the paper and onto my hand (which has happened several times over the years). Eli grabbed some cleaner from the kitchen and I sprayed it with that before grabbing it with the toilet paper.

After that, my heart racing and I couldn't stop shuddering at the thought of it. My skin felt itchy and crawly and I was so creeped out about going to sleep in my bed. Because we had had the windows open all day, I assumed the spider came in through a hole in the screen or something, and I was worried about what else had gotten in.

I don't know why spiders creep me out as much as they do, but I am SO glad Estelle found that guy! I can't imagine if it had crawled onto my clothes or something for me to find later.

I was SO sore when I woke up yesterday--a delayed soreness from the long walk on Saturday. The center of each butt cheek was the most sore spot, which I thought was kind of funny. Also, my calves were pretty sore, as were my inner thighs. I did tell Andrea that I would meet her for a walk yesterday morning at the State Park, though, so even though I was sore, I went for a walk with her.

I'm glad I went, because by the end of the three miles we walked, I was feeling much looser and not so sore. I need to keep that in mind--even though I may not want to move when I'm sore, it actually helps me to feel better. It was absolutely gorgeous outside, too!

Sterling State Park

I always feel happy when I see cardinals, and I happened to see probably about seven or eight of them while we were walking--usually, I'm lucky to see one. I tried several times to get my one-second video of a cardinal, but I was never able to get close enough.

On the way home from the park, I stopped at Kroger to buy a ham and some stuff for side dishes. I'd never bought a ham in my life, but Jerry specifically requested a ham dinner, and I thought it would be fun to make something different. I procrastinated buying the ham last week, but I'm SO glad that I did--because we had our dinner the day after Easter, the ham was $20 instead of $40! I love finding good manager's specials, and this one was awesome.

I made ham, scalloped potatoes, green beans, and rolls--very simple, but for just the four of us, it was plenty. My kids said they had never had ham before (they've had deli ham, and the cubed ham in split pea soup, but never slices of ham for a meal). When I thought about it, I realized that was probably true! So, I was glad they got to try something new. I'm not a big ham person, so I only ate a few bites of it. Jerry loved it, and was thrilled that he now has about seven more pounds of ham to eat this week, hahaha.

After dinner, the kids wanted to play board games, so we started with Sequence. I forgot how fun that game is! Jerry and I played on a team versus the kids, and surprisingly, they beat us on the first round. We won the second one. After that, we played Scattergories. I don't know if it's because of my new medication or just because it was a really good day, but I felt so happy the whole afternoon. We had some music playing, and the windows open, and the kids were in good moods as well.

Overall, it was a very nice weekend! The kids are on spring break all this week. We don't have much planned, but I'm grateful that we've had amazing weather, so we've been outside quite a bit!

April 15, 2017

A long walk (enough procrastination)

Holy cow, what a gorgeous day! As predicted, we had some rain this morning, but it didn't last very long at all. I had made a promise to myself that I was going to get in a long walk today to prepare for the Indy Mini (it's pretty much a given that I'll be walking the whole thing--maybe a few jogs here and there, but I'm cool with walking it). So, I was lazy for a little while when it was raining, but at around 10:00, I decided I needed to go out and get it done--because it was going to take a really long time.

When running, I typically figure a 10:00/mile pace when I'm thinking of how long it will take me (these days, it's slower, but it's an easy, round number to estimate the time for running). When walking, however, I had no idea what my pace would be. I guessed about 18:00/mile, so I knew that walking my planned 8-10 miles was going to take two and a half to three hours!

I downloaded some podcasts, and found a new one called The Hilarious World of Depression. It sounds terrible, right? Like, what's hilarious about depression? BUT, the last thing I want to listen to when going through depression is depressing stuff about depression. So, if someone can make light of it, I was all for giving it a try. And it had great reviews on iTunes.

(For the record, I think the new med that the psychiatrist prescribed may be working--my emotions have been very up and down, but I was expecting that. Today, however, I've had lots of "up" and very little "down". The doctor said I may start to feel better in just 2-3 days, or it could take several weeks--it would just depend on how my body reacted to it. Of course, my good mood could be caused from the nice weather, the fact that I exercised, and some other factors, too.)

Anyway, I dressed in capris and a t-shirt, because it was pretty warm outside. Then, I headed out for a long out-and-back. About half a mile in, I was thinking that a change of scenery would be nice. I decided to text Andrea and ask if she could give me a ride home if I walked all the way to her house. I had no idea how far away it was, but I guessed it was probably about 8-9 miles. She said sure, so I headed her way.

I shared my location with her on our phones (I love the "Find My Friends" app on the iPhone! It's awesome for safety purposes.) That way, she could see my progress and estimate when I would get there. My legs were actually kind of sore from running a couple of days ago (Ha! I guess that's what happens when you stop running for a while and then run again). I really liked the new podcast, and listening to the stories of comedians who dealt with depression was kind of refreshing! They managed to find humor in some tough situations.

The walk was pretty uneventful. I picked up any loose change that I found, which was about the most exciting thing, haha. At around mile five, my fingers were really starting to swell. I remember this happening whenever I've walked a long distance--since my arms are at my sides, instead of bent at the elbow, I think gravity makes the fluid move down to my hands...? That's just a theory, I actually have no idea why it happens.

As I got closer to Andrea's, I knew it wasn't going to be as far as I'd thought. I started thinking I could take a detour to add on a few miles, but my feet were already getting blistered. Again, since I haven't been running much, my feet aren't very tough right now. I've lost my "running calluses", so I'm susceptible to blisters. I decided I'd better just finish at Andrea's, and next week, I'll aim for 10 miles.

As I got close to Andrea's, a car passing by honked at me, and I saw that it was my friend Jessica! Usually, when people honk at me, I spend the rest of the day wondering who it was, but this time I recognized her car.

Mile seven turned over just as I was approaching Andrea's, so I was happy to get in that much at least. We went out in her backyard to chat for a little bit, and I realized I had completely forgotten to turn my Garmin off--so, the timer was still going even though I stopped walking, making my average pace inaccurate. But I'm glad I followed through and did a long walk!

Found a total of 13 cents--woo hoo! ;)
Nothing like procrastinating the training for Indy ;) I'm just glad it's a walker-friendly race!

Andrea is fostering this little dog named Crush, and I think he's ADORABLE. I wanted to get a good photo of his underbite, but I'll have to try again another time. He's the happiest dog I've ever seen! So cute.

(I can't remember if I wrote about One Last Treat, but it's a local organization that takes senior dogs out of shelters and places them with forever homes so that they don't have to spend their last years in a shelter. Very cool, right? They have a "Vet Friend 'Til the End" program, too, where they place the dogs with veterans.) Anyway, Andrea started fostering these dogs (she's perfect for it!). I wish I was looking for another dog, because I would take Crush in a heartbeat!

Andrea drove me home, and wow--my hips were feeling very sore. Walking is no joke; there were actually a few times during the walk where I thought it would feel easier to run. I'm really glad I did this walk, though--it felt hard doing just 7 miles, so I need to toughen up for 13.1 in a few weeks. Next week, I may try alternating running a couple of minutes and walking a couple of minutes, for the sake of time (and I think it may feel easier on my body).

When I got home, we opened up the windows in the house and the breeze felt amazing! It was about 82 degrees, the warmest day so far this year. I turned on some music, and Eli and I played cards--it felt like several perfect moments all came together today and totally made my day. We're supposed to have nice weather tomorrow, too :)

Happy Easter, everyone!

April 13, 2017

Runner's high

Yesterday morning, I got a funny text message from my cousin Shannon. We used to be pretty close when I was in college (I lived much closer to her then when I was in a dorm), but we don't see each other or talk very often anymore. So, when I got a message from her, I was pretty curious. It made me laugh when I read it--it went something like this: "OMG, Katie! I had a dream last night that you guys hit $20 million on the lottery (a scratch off ticket)! You need to play the lottery today--you might win big!"

Shannon jokes around more than anyone I know (my favorite thing about her), so I laughed about it--but considering her dream came out of nowhere, I thought it couldn't hurt to buy a couple of scratch offs ;)

I bought four tickets yesterday afternoon--one for each Jerry, the kids, and me.

And we won! Haha, five whole dollars--a far cry from $20 million ;)

This morning, I drove the kids to school, and on the way home, I thought it would be a nice day to go for a run. It's been ages since I actually felt like running and didn't have to talk myself into it or force myself to do it. I actually felt like I was looking forward to it! When I got home, I quickly dressed in my running clothes before I changed my mind, and headed outside.

Despite being pretty windy, it felt great! My breathing was harder than normal, but that's bound to happen from not running much for so long. I didn't feel that odd out-of-breath feeling I had recently, which was a relief. I pulled my sleeve over my Garmin so that I couldn't see my pace or heart rate--I just wanted to run and hopefully complete three miles.

I took the route that I used to do in 2010, when I first started running. There is something nostalgic about that route, and even though it's not my favorite, it seemed appropriate for today. When I arrived back home, I actually got that same "runner's high" that I used to get years ago.

It was great :) However, I really need to get in a few distance walks/runs before Indy! The race is three weeks from Saturday, and while I know I could pull it off without any training if needed, that's obviously NOT a good idea. This Saturday, it's supposed to get up to 76 degrees! The forecast shows thunderstorms in the morning, but I think I will go to the Metropark in the afternoon and get in a long walk (8-10 miles).

Thankfully, this weekend isn't going to be nearly as busy as last weekend. Actually, I just remembered that Sunday is Easter! Today is my last chance to buy stuff for the kids' Easter baskets while they are at school, so I'd better go do that now. Happy Thursday!

April 12, 2017

Finally--a psych appointment

Things are FINALLY settling down in the Foster household ;)

It was a crazy-busy (the fun kind of busy!) weekend. I already wrote about the From Fat to Finish Line meet-up on Saturday. In the afternoon, Emily (a blog reader turned friend) came over. She lives on the western side of Michigan, but she was in town, so we made plans to get together. We chatted at my house and then walked to the bar to play Keno and have a drink. It was fun! And so nice to chat.

Jerry and I had tentative plans to go to our friends' Jake and Emma's house for a game night (I had a lot planned on Saturday so I wasn't sure if we'd be able to make it). The kids really wanted to go, and despite the busy day, I knew we'd have fun if we went. So, we headed over to Jake and Emma's.

We played Bunco (I'd never played before, but I always wanted to learn). I was terrible at it! Haha. That game is simply about the luck of the dice, though. Then we played Taboo, and my brain was just too tired--I was fumbling for words (which is totally the point of the game, but still). The only picture I have from the evening is this one that Jerry took, but I thought it was pretty funny.

That's apparently what I look like when I'm fumbling for words ;) My friend Adam was moderating to make sure I don't say any of the "taboo" words on the card. It was a fun evening, but I was completely tired and ready for bed by 11:00.

I got a phone call on Monday from the psychiatrist's office (that I've been on a waiting list for) and they said they had a cancellation for an appointment on Tuesday at 10:45, could I make it? I said YES, of course, even though I knew the carpet was being installed between 11 and 1. I've been trying so hard to get in to see a psychiatrist, and I figured I would do whatever I could to make sure I could go.

I knew I'd have to get the house ready for the carpet on Monday so that I'd be able to go to the appointment Tuesday (the drive was 45 minutes each way, so the earliest I figured I'd be home was 12:30--and that's if the doctor could see me right on time). Worst case scenario, I could ask my friend Andrea to come over and let the carpet guys in.

Anyway, that meant I'd have to prep the bedrooms by myself, because Jerry was working nights. I honestly have no idea how I did it, but I spent all day Monday moving furniture and all of our belongings out of the bedrooms and into the living room and kitchen. Check out my living room when I was done!

The only thing I left in each bedroom was a mattress--I even took the bed frames out. That way, we'd have a place to sleep on Monday night, but I could quickly move the mattresses in the morning. When I was disassembling Noah's bunk beds, I really screwed up my (already screwed up) back. I think I pulled a muscle or something--my neck, left shoulder blade, and left ribs-area hurt. I can't even turn my head very easily. It feels muscular, though, so I'm glad it's not my bones--my spine is already messed up from arthritis and bone spurs.

So anyway, I got the bedrooms totally ready, even though I could barely walk through my living room or kitchen thanks to all of our stuff being in there. Once I finally sat down, I got a phone call from Lowe's--they said they were going to be later than planned for the carpet installation, and to expect them between 1:00 and 4:00! It solved my problem of having to be in two places at once, but if I had known, I would have had Jerry help me move everything in the morning.

On Monday evening, I got together with an old friend, Jenni, from high school. We took journalism together, and we were pretty good friends back then; but, we went our separate ways after high school and I hadn't seen her in over 10 years, until she came over for game night a few weeks ago. We made plans to get together and catch up, and it was really nice to hear about what she's been up to for the last decade or so ;)  She lives fairly close, so we plan to get together again soon.

Yesterday, I wasn't nervous at all for my appointment--I was just so happy to finally get to see a psychiatrist! I sat in his office for an hour and fifteen minutes, telling him what's going on and answering his questions. He was very knowledgable and answered all my questions. He didn't make me feel rushed, which is something that drives me crazy with some doctors. I'm not ready to talk about the details or outcome just yet, but hopefully I will soon. I did leave there feeling a sense of relief (at getting answers), and definitely hopeful. I'm going to try the medication he recommended (I started it yesterday) and I am hoping that I feel much better in a month or so. I have a follow-up appointment in a month.

I got home at 1:00, and waited for the carpet installers to arrive. At 3:00, they called and said they'd be here at 4:15--so I definitely could have waited to take apart the bedrooms, but oh well. Once they arrived, they got to work right away and three hours later, we had new carpet in the bedrooms! There are a lot of things that we have to buy as adults that aren't any fun--water heaters, furnaces, etc. But carpet is an exciting one for me! I was so so happy to get rid of the burgundy carpet that I'd had in my bedroom for the last 14 years.

I finally remembered to do a before and after photo, too:

The boys' got the same carpet in their bedrooms, and they were thrilled as well. We started moving everything back into the bedrooms last night, but I was so exhausted by 9:00 that I just left everything else for morning and went to bed.

When I woke up today, I was so relieved that we don't have any appointments or things on the schedule. I need to rest my back, so I plan to have a lazy day today.

Oh! Today is Wednesday, so that means Wednesday Weigh-in. I had a pretty good loss this week (1.6 pounds), but that's probably because of the last couple of days--super busy with moving furniture and cleaning, and not having time (or space) to eat a proper meal.

Now that Eli is done with physical therapy, and we don't have appointments after school several times a week, I'd like to get back to cooking real meals again! It seems like we were never home at dinner time for the last month, so we would grab something while we were out or just throw something together quickly when we got home. I miss home cooked food. I didn't set a goal for April, but I'm going to declare that my goal for the rest of April--to cook dinner at least five nights a week like I used to.

Well, now I'm going to relax and catch up on a couple of shows before the kids get home. Their spring break starts Friday!

April 08, 2017

A fun meet-up

The Tigers had a great opening day yesterday--the terrible weather we were supposed to have ended up being pretty nice! It was windy and chilly, but we didn't get the snow/rain mixture that was predicted, thankfully. Opening day is a very big deal around here--thousands of people go tailgate in Detroit all day. I had been thinking of going, but when the forecast called for crazy rain and wind, I decided I'd rather take care of Lucas ;)

Taking care of an infant yesterday was SO much fun--I miss when my kids were that little! We may not have gone to the game, but we wore our Tigers shirts and watched the game at home:

Nathan, Brian, and Becky had a good time in Detroit, and I obviously had fun with Luke. It was a great day!

In February, after I got back from San Diego, I organized a meet-up for Detroit/Toledo area From Fat to Finish Line fans. (In case you missed it, From Fat to Finish Line is the name of the documentary that I was in; and there is a Facebook group that formed based on the film.) The first date that I'd picked for the meet-up had terrible weather, and we had to reschedule to today. Thankfully, the weather is beautiful today, so we met up at the State Park at 9:00 this morning.

I was nervous, because I was the one who organized it; so, I wanted everything to go smoothly and everyone to have fun. Jerry is off work today, so he was able to go with me (and that helped with my nerves, which was nice). We had a good turnout, and the group that showed up was fantastic!

First, we went for a 5K walk around the State Park. There was no wind at all, so even though it was about 40 degrees, it was sunny and felt nice. Then we all went to Cracker Barrel for breakfast. It was great getting to meet and chat with new people! Everybody was SO nice, and I would love to do it again. We may make it a monthly thing, which would be fun.

Well, I'm meeting up with a blog reader, Emily, this afternoon, so I'd better get ready. Fun day :)

April 06, 2017


Why does it feel like the time is just flying by every day? I constantly feel like I'm a step behind everyone else, and I'm always trying to catch up--but the time goes by so fast! Just when I feel like I can take a quick breather, I have "just one more thing" to get done. It's actually been nice to be so busy, because it helps with my depression; but on the other hand, I am not used to being so fast-paced.

Speaking of depression, Jerry wanted to do something nice for me a couple days ago to cheer me up--since I'm not a big fan of flowers, he got me this enormous teddy bear. It's three feet tall! I named him Gunther, and he is super soft and cuddly. This is one of my favorite things Jerry's ever given me--and the timing was perfect. I love it!

I cannot believe it's Thursday already. When I woke the kids up this morning, it felt like just a minute ago I was waking them up and telling them it was Friday, so they had just one more day of school before the weekend. Anyway, I did do my Wednesday Weigh-in yesterday, I just didn't have time to post it.

I had another good week:

I was at 144.6, so that is down 1.6 pounds from last week. The weight loss has been a touch slower than the very consistent 2 pounds per week I was losing in 2015, but I've also been much more relaxed as far as calorie counting goes. I'm still trying to see how I do without logging food, and just paying attention instead to the approximate number of calories it has. I'm still eating three meals and a treat each day, keeping my portions moderate. 

I've only had alcohol twice in the last six weeks or so, and I think that has helped a lot with preventing binge eating. I think the alcohol (even just one or two drinks) would lower my inhibitions enough to make me not care much about what or how much I was eating, and I was probably getting in a lot of extra calories that way. 

Now that my weight is under 145, I really don't mind if I stop losing at this point. Maintenance is always tricky for me, so I'm not going to make a bold statement about maintaining, either--I'm just going to eat comfortably, exercise moderately, and see where my weight happens to fall. My biggest goal as far as my weight goes right now is to find a "happy place" that is fairly easy to maintain, even if it's a little heavier than I would prefer. 

I'm being cautious with weight goals anyway, because I'm guessing once I see the psychiatrist next month, he'll have me try a new medication, which may affect my weight. So, I'm happy to see the scale going down, but I'm still being cautious.

I don't know what has come over me lately, but I've been in a serious spring cleaning mode. The new bedroom carpet is going to be installed on Tuesday, so I've been going through stuff in my bedroom and organizing. Yesterday, I went to Hobby Lobby and bought a bunch of decorative storage boxes to put stuff in instead of the plastic bags, shoe boxes, Tupperware containers, etc., that our stuff has been in. 

I went through all my clothes and packed up four huge bags to donate. I still feel like I should get rid of more, but I usually regret it when I force myself to choose more, so I'll just stick with this for now. Thankfully, most of my clothing comes from the Salvation Army, so I don't mind getting rid of things. It would be hard to get rid of clothes that I'd bought brand new and hadn't worn much!

It feels so nice and productive to get everything organized in my bedroom. It wasn't total chaos before, but I did have stuff stashed in so many places that it was overwhelming when I was looking for something. Getting the carpet replaced will be the finishing touch, and it'll feel like a brand new bedroom--I'm excited! 

I have some fun stuff planned this weekend. Tomorrow, we are going to babysit Lucas for a little while so that Brian and Becky can go to the Tigers opening day. If it's anything like the first time Jerry and I went out without Noah when he was a newborn, then they probably won't be gone very long ;)  (It was funny--we were excited to go out for a date night, but once we dropped Noah off at my sister's house, he was all we talked about. And then we rushed through dinner and skipped the movie so that we could go pick him up. Haha!)

I organized a From Fat to Finish Line meet-up on Saturday morning, where we'll go for a walk or run at the State Park and then go out to brunch. We were supposed to do it a few weeks ago, but the weather was terrible and we had to reschedule. It's supposed to be very nice outside on Saturday, so I hope that the forecast is correct! Then on Saturday afternoon, I'm meeting up with Emily, one of my blog readers. I met her for drinks back in August, which was fun; and she's going to be in town again this weekend. 

If I don't write tomorrow, have a great weekend everyone! 


April 04, 2017

Teaming up with Monica

I am so tired of driving! I never used to mind driving very much; probably because I don't have a regular commute or anything, so I don't spend long amounts of time in the car very often. But the last three months, I feel like all I've been doing is driving! And it's "driving" me crazy ;)

I've already put nearly 5,000 miles on my car this year, which is much more than ever before. The average American female of my age would have driven about 2,866 miles at this point (yes, I looked it up, because I was curious). We've just had so many appointments for various things this year, and I've been driving to Detroit, Toledo, and Ann Arbor quite a bit. With all of the construction going on in Detroit and Toledo, I'm spending a lot of time driving.

Anyway, yesterday I had a therapy appointment, and it was a very productive one. We worked on a self-esteem issue I've been having for years, and I felt like a huge weight was lifted when I left the office.

Without getting too specific or personal on here, I had basically been focusing on all of the things I wasn't doing in one particular area of my life, instead of looking at all the things I am doing. My therapist helped me to flip that mentality, and I feel much better about it!

I also talked with her about something I'd been thinking about for a long time, but only recently started researching--getting Monica and I registered as a Pet Partners team.

When we fostered Monica last June, I knew there was a good chance we'd end up adopting her. We fell in love with her because she is such a loving cat! She ADORES being petted and held, and it's almost annoying in a way--when you stop petting her, she taps her paw against your arm or hand until you pet her some more. She just loves it!

She's also not "touchy" in the way a lot of cats are when they are done being held or petted--when Estelle has had enough, for example, she gives a few warning signs to back off. If you don't, then she may bite your hand (not enough to draw blood, but as a way to say, "Hey! Stop petting me!"). Monica is never really "done" being petted--she would sit there all day long if you continued to stroke her, haha. But, at worst, she would just turn and walk away if she was done.

This got me thinking about how she would make a great therapy cat. Pet Partners is a non-profit that registers handlers and pets as therapy teams who can then interact with all sorts of people in settings such as nursing homes and group homes. When Mark was alive, he would frequently talk about taking care of the animals at his group home--they had some farm animals there, and it was the mens' job to care for them. Mark took a lot of pride in that.

Anyway, as I learned from attending Purina's Better With Pets summit for the last few years, pets and people can do great things together. And pets are fantastic therapy for people with PTSD, Alzheimer's, intellectual disabilities like the men in Mark's group home, people approaching end of life, etc.

Going by myself to a nursing home to visit with strangers would be very hard for me, because of my shyness--but if I had Monica with me, I would feel more comfortable because she is a nice ice breaker. So, I think it would be a win for everybody--me, for stepping out of my comfort zone and helping others; Monica, because she will get lots of attention; and the people we visit, because Monica will love all over them :)

The registration process may take a while, especially with everything else I have going on right now, but I think it's worth doing. I just have to take an online course, have Monica approved by the vet, and have an evaluation. I think Monica is perfect for the program, so I'm kind of looking forward to it!

Tonight, we're going (along with my parents and Nathan) to Brian and Becky's for dinner and to visit with Luke! I knew I would love being an aunt, but I never realized just how much--it's so nice to get a "baby fix" every time I see him.

Nathan just finished remodeling his bathroom (he and Brian did the work themselves) and it looks fantastic! I don't have a final photo of his bathroom yet, but this is a picture from a few weeks ago, when he was almost done with it (obviously, the toilet is not in the shower, haha).

My mom had the idea to give Nathan a "shower"--to buy him some bathroom accessories for the finishing touches. My mom, Jeanie, Becky, and I pitched in, and my mom and I went shopping last night. We put together a nice basket of stuff for him. (He doesn't know about it, so I hope he likes it!)

Art, rugs, towels, waste basket, valance, etc. We're going to give it to him at Brian's house tonight. It should be a fun evening!

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